In a key Atlantic Division game, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 101-97 Monday night in Brooklyn. With the win, the Nets even the season series with Toronto at 2-2 and they move within 3 games of the Raptors for the division lead. The Nets got another balanced scoring effort led by their point guards. Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston had 18 points each. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 21.
If the Nets had lost this game, their hopes of winning the division would have nearly completely faded, trailing Toronto by 5 games and having lost the tiebreaker. But now, the Nets are still very much in the race. If Toronto loses a bit of the steam it has picked up recently and the Nets continue to play well, the Atlantic Division could be theirs.
Player grades and notes:
Mason Plumlee: B
Plumlee started for the 6th straight time tonight and stayed out of foul trouble, which is always a good thing. Offensively, he was quiet, but he led the team in rebounds with 8 and he did a pretty good job defensively on Jonas Valanciunas.
Paul Pierce: B+
Pierce was in foul trouble the entire game until the fourth quarter, where he came up with huge plays on both offense and defense. Offensively, he was able to get to the foul line in the fourth, and then hit a huge 3 with just over a minute remaining to put the Nets up for good. Defensively, he had 4 steals in the game, including the clinching one with 30 seconds remaining.
Shaun Livingston: A-
Livingston had a very quiet and very good game at the same time. He had 18 points, but you barely would have noticed. He was very efficient and only took shots in the paint. On defense, he shut down DeMar DeRozan, who was held to just 14 points.
Deron Williams: A
This wasn’t Deron’s best game of the season, but it was his best effort. He was very into this game and that was great to see. He enjoyed his head-to-head matchup with Kyle Lowry, and even though Lowry put up better numbers, Deron won the battle. His shot wasn’t falling in the first half, but he turned that around in the second half, hitting four 3’s in the game.
Joe Johnson: B+
Joe didn’t do much in the 4th, but he did a nice job keeping the Nets in the game in the first 3 quarters. In the third, he got especially hot, when he and Deron Williams combined to hit 4 straight 3’s for the Nets.
Alan Anderson: A-
With Marcus Thornton having a little bit of an off night and Andrei Kirilenko injured, Anderson came into the game and played very well. On offense, he was able to go to the free throw line 8 times, which you wouldn’t expect, and on defense, he did a good job on Terrence Ross and John Salmons.
Andray Blatche: B
Blatche actually had a couple of really big plays in this game. He had one very fancy layup in the final two minutes to tie the game and he also had some key rebounds and saves of the ball from going out of bounds. He really struggled defending the pick-and-roll in the first half, but he was much better on defense in the fourth quarter.
The Nets will hit the road for another tough game on Wednesday night when they will be in Miami. FRWD will have full coverage of the game.